The number of ultralight double-wall backpacking tents with a trail weight of 3 lbs or less that are available today has grown significantly, driven by consumer demand and advances in fabric and material technologies. If you prefer a double-wall tent over a single-wall tent because it’s more spacious, warmer, less drafty, and has a separate inner tent and rainfly to prevent internal condensation transfer, you can have it with just a slight weight penalty compared to a single-wall tent.
While ultralight single-wall tents will always have their advocates, the vast majority of backpackers prefer freestanding (See: What is a Freestanding Tent) and semi-freestanding tents (See: What is a Semi-Freestanding Tent) that don’t require much practice or advanced site selection skills to set up. Ease of use often trumps a few ounces of added gear weight when it comes right down to it. See for yourself, below in this sortable table.
|Make / Model||Type||Weight (oz/g)|
|NEMO Dragonfly OSMO 1||Freestanding||33oz/933.9g|
|NEMO Dragonfly OSMO 2||Freestanding||42oz/1188.6g|
|NEMO Hornet OSMO UL 1||Semi-Freestanding||29oz/735.8g|
|NEMO Hornet OSMO UL 2||Semi-Freestanding||31oz/877.3g|
|NEMO Hornet OSMO UL 3||Semi-Freestanding||45oz/1273g|
|NEMO Hornet Elite 1 OSMO||Semi-Freestanding||23oz/650.9g|
|NEMO Hornet Elite 2 OSMO||Semi-Freestanding||27oz/764.1g|
|DurstonGear X-Mid 1||Trekking Pole||28oz/795g|
|DurstonGear X-Mid 2||Trekking Pole||35.4oz/1005g|
|Hilleberg Enan 1||Semi-Freestanding||34oz/962.2g|
|Hilleberg Akto 1||Semi-Freestanding||46oz/1301.8g|
|3F UL Lanshan 2||Trekking Pole||39oz/1103.7g|
|3F UL Lanshan 1||Trekking Pole||29.8oz/843.34g|
|Marmot Tungsten UL 1||Semi-Freestanding||34oz/962.2g|
|Marmot Tungsten UL 2||Semi-Freestanding||47.5oz/1344.25g|
|MSR Freelite 1||Semi-Freestanding||26oz/735.8g|
|MSR Freelite 2||Semi-Freestanding||32oz/905.6g|
|MSR Hubba Hubba 1||Semi-Freestanding||34oz/962.2g|
|MSR Hubba Hubba 2||Semi-Freestanding||46oz/1304g|
|Sierra Designs High Side 1||Semi-Freestanding||31oz/877.3g|
|Sierra Designs High Route 1||Trekking Pole||28oz/792.4g|
|Six Moon Designs Haven||Trekking Pole||34oz/962.2g|
|Slingfin Portal 2||Freestanding||46oz/1301.8g|
|Sea-to-Summit Alto 1 TR1||Semi-Freestanding||33oz/933.9g|
|Tarptent Notch||Trekking Pole||28.4oz/803.72g|
|Tarptent Notch Li||Trekking Pole||21.5oz/608.45g|
|Tarptent Stratospire 1||Trekking Pole||36.5oz/1032.95g|
|Tarptent Stratospire Li||Trekking Pole||28.6oz/809.38g|
|Tarptent Stratospire 2||Trekking Pole||43.8oz/1239.54g|
|Tarptent Moment DW 1||Freestanding||37.7oz/1066.91g|
|Tarptent Double Rainbow DW||Trekking Pole||44oz/1245.2g|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall 3 Carbon||Semi-Freestanding||29oz/820.7g|
|Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 1 Carbon||Semi-Freestanding||16oz/452.8g|
|Big Agnes Fly Creek HV 2 Carbon||Semi-Freestanding||18oz/509.4g|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall 2 Platinum||Semi-Freestanding||31oz/877.3g|
|Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL1||Semi-Freestanding||27oz/764.1g|
|Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2||Semi-Freestanding||31oz/877.3g|
|Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL3||Semi-Freestanding||47oz/1330.1g|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2||Semi-Freestanding||35oz/990.5g|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3||Semi-Freestanding||42oz/1188.6g|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1||Freestanding||34oz/962.2g|
|Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2||Freestanding||43oz/1216.9g|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1||Semi-Freestanding||30oz/849g|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 mtnGLO||Semi-Freestanding||38oz/1075.4g|
|Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL3 mtnGLO||Semi-Freestanding||45oz/1273.5g|
Tent Fabrics and Materials
The lightest-weight ultralight double-wall tents are made with DCF (Dyneema Composite Fabrics) which is more of a synthetic laminate than a fabric. In addition to being very lightweight, it’s much more waterproof than conventional tent fabrics and doesn’t sag when it gets wet. The downsides are that it’s very expensive and is bulkier than conventional tents to pack, even though you’d expect the opposite.
Most ultralight double-wall tents are still made with more conventional fabrics including ripstop nylon. These are usually coated with PU (polyurethane) or its variants including PeU (polyether urethane), which is becoming increasingly popular. These waterproof coatings allow tents to be factory seam-taped so you don’t have to seam seal them yourself, something that a number of single-wall tent manufacturers, including Six Moon Designs, Lightheart Gear, and Tarptent require to this day with their silnylon and siliconized polyester tents.
Silpoly, which is siliconized polyester, is a relative newcomer to the ultralight tent scene but is being adopted by more and more lightweight backpack makers including Durston Gear and Tarptent. Like DCF, it doesn’t sag or stretch when it gets wet, which has always been a problem with silnylon.
Some of the tents listed above, including those from Big Agnes and MSR, also include carbon fiber tent poles to save weight. These became available about 5 years ago and have proven reliable, so more and more tent manufacturers are adopting them.
To summarize, there are more ultralight and lightweight double-wall tents available today than ever before. If you’re in the market to reduce the weight of your backpacking tent but are hesitant to get a single-wall tent instead of a double-wall one because you’re concerned about tent condensation or ease of use, rest easy. The weight difference between ultralight double-wall and single-wall backpacking tents has narrowed considerably and you can stick with a double-wall tent with only a slight weight penalty.
Double-wall Tent Advantages
- Easy to set up
- Inner tent prevents internal condensation from making your gear wet
- Can be used in all three-season weather conditions and mild winter weather
- Vestibules provide covered more gear storage in poor weather
- Deep bathtub floors prevent flooding if water pools underneath
- Less drafty because less airflow is required to mitigate condensation
- Easier to set up on rock ledges, sandy soil, or wooden tent platforms
Double-wall Tent Disadvantages
- Tent poles can be bulky and awkward to pack
- Warmer in hot weather
- Take longer to dry because they have more surface area
- The inner tent may become wet when pitched in rain, although some double wall tents can be pitched fly first to keep the inner tent dry
- Slingfin Portal 2 Tent Review
- Slingfin 2Lite Tent Review
- Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL 2 Tent Review
- Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 Tent Review
- Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent Review
- Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 Tent Review
- Six Moon Designs Haven Bundle Tent Review
- Lanshan 2 Tent Review
- NEMO DragonFly 2 Tent Review
- NEMO Hornet 2 Tent Review
- Tartptent Notch 1 Tent Review
- Tarptent Double Rainbow Review
- Sea-to-Summit Alto TR1 Tent Review
- Durston Gear X-Mid 1 Tent Review
- MSR Hubba Hubba 2 Tent Review
- MSR Freelite 2 Tent Review
- Hilleberg Akto Tent Review
- NEMO Hornet Elite 1 Tent Review
- Sierra Designs High Route 1 Tent Review
- Sierra Designs High Side 1 Tent Review
No REI tents? Love my quarter dome SL1.
They killed it off.
I did not know that! I love mine. Do you know why they discontinued it?
I agree, when I go to te ground, its the REI Quarterdome SL1, its a great tent !
I still like mine. Excellent tent.
The current models are showing up as discounted on the site. I assumed they were clearing out that version and coming out with an updated version?
Agreed, it’s a mystery. Maybe a new one be available in the spring as per REI response to customer’s question.
From the Q&A regarding availability:
“REIservice · 11 days ago
As of February 16, 2023, this tent is in stock and available.”
“REIservice · a month ago
As of January 2023, this tent has been discontinued. Give us a call if you’d like to discuss other options that can meet your needs.”
“REIservice · 5 months ago
There is no updated Quarter Dome due in the near future, however, we hope to have a new edition to our tent lineup for spring 2023. Check back then for details!
There is Warmlite who offer a number of Quick Ship and Custom tents made in Maine.
I’ve bought a number of items from Warmlite over the years and the sewing quality has been so HORRENDOUS that I’d be very hestitant to do business with them. I also came by one of their older tents two years ago and the sewing quality on that was just awful too. Your mileage may vary. Make sure you can return anything you buy from them.
Although not a true double-wall, there is also the Tarptent Double Rainbow Li with optional liner. We’ve only had it out on a few trips so far, and so more testing needed. May be an option for those wishing to splurge outrageous amounts of money and try single wall living without having to fully commit. The single version of this tent is reviewed here, of course: https://sectionhiker.com/rainbow-li/
No review on HMG’s unbound tent series?
Oh yeah. They have a new tent. Hopefully it’ll be around longer than the last one. :-)
But not on this list. It’s a single wall tent.
I have the Moment DW and like the AKTO it is SEMI-freestanding, not freestanding as listed.
Since getting the TT Notch Li Dyneema solo tent the Moment DW has become my “winter tent” with the addition of the optional Crossing Pole (but shortened 5″ and run UNDER the fly for better wind and snow load handling).